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TOPIC: What Is Practice FOR?

What Is Practice FOR? 07 Sep 2013 15:40 #14667

Especially now that we're expanding, this seems like a useful question. And, not-coincidentally, it's one that has recurred for me over the last couple or three years, as it began to dawn on me that I was no longer interested in doing what I had done, and which had resulted in arriving at-- not so much an "end of the path", as the next fork between two blind curves. "The road goes on forever and the party never ends!" as some sage sang.

I'm just instigating here; don't know that I have a clear idea myself, yet. :evil:
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What Is Practice FOR? 07 Sep 2013 16:22 #14670

Good question!

(I mistakenly typed "Good answer!" before correcting myself. Perhaps that is of more value than pretending to give some thoughtful answer!)

(ETA - interrupted... to finish: It was one that I was thinking of recently Kate, seeing new faces, and each person having their own goals, desires, instigation for meditating.)
Last Edit: 07 Sep 2013 16:57 by Ona Kiser.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 09:04 #14693

First, let me say that we are not expanding, except organically, in any way, shape, or form right now. We *may* have another group join us, we may not. Lot's of friction.

But that does not make your question any less useful, and I'll answer it by saying that for me, practice is about getting on handle on...getting techniques...for managing my way through life with reduced friction and stress. I do not see practice as having an end, although I do see it as being refined over a lifetime. And as I have said many times, my practice is also practice for my children, as those same tools and techniques (if they work) are intended to be passed on so that they can make better use of them then I can.

My goal is not to get "enlightened", but to be awake enough to know and notice the difference.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 09:25 #14694

Kate Gowen wrote:
What Is Practice FOR?

Easy one.

If you haven't yet reached stream-entry, the goal of your practice is to get to stream-entry.

After that, the goal is to deal with the remaining fetters.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 09:54 #14696

"My goal is not to get "enlightened", but to be awake enough to know and notice the difference. "

I like this, Tom: it's in the spirit of--

"-- Can you show me enlightenment?
-- If I showed you, would you recognize it?
-- Yes!
-- What more do you want?"
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 11:05 #14698

I can list of some of the benefits of practice but really that's not what practice is for (speaking for myself). For the last few years, practice has been the natural expression of who I am and what I do. It doesn't have a purpose except to express itself. It doesn't have a reason for being except that it is. It's like asking an artist why do you paint? I suspect many would say, "because I can't not do it."

PS. the particular expression of practice is a changing one. Sometimes it's formal sitting practice like the last few months, sometimes it's more on the psychological side and sometimes it's just awareness of what is here.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 11:07 #14699

Do methods have purposes, or do we use methods to serve purposes?
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 11:12 #14700

Yes.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 12:08 #14701

Derek wrote:
Kate Gowen wrote:
What Is Practice FOR?

Easy one.

If you haven't yet reached stream-entry, the goal of your practice is to get to stream-entry.

After that, the goal is to deal with the remaining fetters.

Can i mentally rephrase that to speak for yourself? ;)
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 12:41 #14702

For me, at the moment, is about development of the energetic system.

In general, the energetic system is developed by removing obstructions inside it, wich leads to a life that is much more light, spontaneous and relaxed, in a way that a child can be, apart for the fact that you end up having all the development that a child does not have. More specifically, there is a particular sense of natural wellbeing that happens when tensions are absent, wich is remarkable, definitely something that I want for myself.
Feeling good makes me capable of caring for other people, wich is just not possible if I'm totally self absorbed, wich happens automatically when I don't feel good.
The whole process leads to an increased sensibility to feelings.
Increased sensibility to feelings makes relationships more profound and meaningful.
It also seems to uncover some kind of natural skillful way of functioning in the world, were there is no real need to control things, as things seems to arise as they need to, in a way that is consistent with the context.
It also allows a greater degree of control over myself, as needed.
In the end, that also leads to energies going upward, that IMO leads to fruitions and insight progress, wich reinforces everything else.

While it could be said that insight is the one thing that really matters, wich is a view that in a sense I can share, the whole-big process seems to be so much of something integral that, from a certain perspective, even the notion of existing parts inside it doesn't feel quite right.
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 13:41 #14704

Mario, the wholeness/integral aspect you mention resonates with me.

My own relationship to spiritual practices has gone through all sorts of phases. In college, when I dabbled in various Pagan things and eventually got hardcore-involved in Santeria, there was something of a seeking for a sense of where I belonged in the world and feeling experientially connected to the forces of nature and to community. At least I recall it that way. Long while later when I first began doing meditation (after a decade plus of "spiritual stuff is stupid") my short term goal was simply to hope to prepare for my own death (after being rattled by several deaths and other tragedies). Then I stumbled on the Pragmatic Dharma scene, and had this recognition: "I must wake up. That's the only thing that matters." But as my practice went on, that old theme from long ago resurfaced and became more and more dominant. Awakening became more and more linked, for me, to a religious framework, where the goal was some kind of vaguely defined "divine love and wisdom." And that eventually transformed into a desire to utterly surrender my will to God's Will.

Practice now, if I define it as ritual activity or vocal prayer or deliberate sitting in silence, is a combination of obligatory practices that are part of my tradition (I'm now Catholic); spontaneous practices in response to various things - from expressing gratitude to praying for a friend who is sick, etc.; to random dabblings in things (like going on a pilgrimage or some newly discovered prayer practice) just because I never have before, and it might be interesting).
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 15:33 #14707

Well, the question is framed in such a way to inquire into purpose, method, intention, and aspiration-- at both the fine-grained personal level, and at the more generalized level of "principle and function."

For myself, what this inquiry illuminates changes/ has changed over time. My "answers" have facilitated an ongoing process of development, and pointed me toward ever more specific resources. And, given that this has been going on for well over a decade "since" (the catalyzing insight)-- seeing the changes has allowed me to hold answers more lightly, provisionally.

Asking such questions is my current understanding of how to practice "turning the light around." Which is as good a description as I can make, of what my actual practice IS, at this point. In a way, you could say that it is "for" shining a light. Illumination, as an infinite game.

Probably sounds more hifalutin' than it is... :P

Another way of saying it is that I am “curiouser and curiouser.”

(my computer connection comes and goes these days-- been trying to post this since this morning!)
Last Edit: 08 Sep 2013 18:26 by Kate Gowen. Reason: typo
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 15:50 #14708

Re: general level of principle and function, as well as in reference to Derek's remark, I used to think all spiritual practice was "for" the same purpose (usually whatever purpose was important to me at the time). Even if different traditions or individuals used different language, I imagined that was all really different ways of clumsily trying to say the same thing, or that whoever was saying it just didn't get it yet, and when they did, THEN they'd agree.

It's been interesting to see how what seems to be true instead is that everyone has very different goals (when they start) and quite different ongoing shifts in relationship to practice. We might be assuming here, for instance, that most people "want to wake up" or something like that, and perhaps here on an eclectic dharma forum it's probable that many people may have that inclination in some form or other, but people I run into in the wider world and talk to one on one are often looking for something much more concrete - like 'I want to get through crisis X in my life'. Or 'I want to be more outgoing and comfortable in my own skin'. Or even some kind of wordless indistinct longing for a sense of wholeness.

And much as any given tradition (if one subscribes to one) may describe quite specific goals and procedures, many people I know tend to move from one tradition to another as their "what is practice for?" answer changes. Or they may shift around within a tradition (many traditions have an array of practices, or the relationship to the same practices may change.)
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 19:08 #14712

A re-tweet:

Hokai Sobol ‏@hokaisobol 2 Sep
Practice is rehearsal. Life is performance. #openDharma
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 20:55 #14719

For me it is a means of dealing with
Ona Kiser wrote:
some kind of wordless indistinct longing for a sense of wholeness.

which hopefully will be dealt with sometime soon or I'm jumping off my window, and I live in a first floor so it will be worse because I'll just break a leg. :dry:
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 21:05 #14723

dharmandy wrote:
For me it is a means of dealing with
Ona Kiser wrote:
some kind of wordless indistinct longing for a sense of wholeness.

which hopefully will be dealt with sometime soon or I'm jumping off my window, and I live in a first floor so it will be worse because I'll just break a leg. :dry:

Given your luck, Andy, you'll probably just stub your toe. :evil:
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What Is Practice FOR? 08 Sep 2013 21:05 #14724

I started out with "the end of suffering" ... hence Buddhism (plus, at that time, I pretty much needed a nontheism). Now???1?1?11
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